What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Kiss Hank's Ass

Wendy Bailey gets the credit for diirecting me to this interesting and funny little video.

Let me warn you, as she did, that it will offend some people who get offended easily. I'm not one of these people, in fact, I thought it was hilarious. But, if you think you are offended easily, don't watch it. I'd love to discuss what everyone thinks the makers were trying to say. It seems pretty clear at first until the very end.

This comes to mind after seeing the end, doesn't it. I guess that's the point.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blonde Joke

If you like blonde jokes, you'll love This one courtesy of Marcus Ellis, who apperently hasn't fell off the world of blogging quite yet.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This is how I deal with anonymous bloggers

This is in response to an anonymous comment that was made on the January 23 post.

Mr. Anonymous, by all means, please butt in. I really like it when I see comments from people I don't know or from people I don't hear from often. Although, I do prefer people who sign their name.

I realize that I probably came off a little hard on the SBTC. In no way did I ever mean to indicate that I thought they were bad people. I wasn't singing their praises, don't get me wrong, but I realize that they, like most fundamentalist groups are acting in what they feel is the best interest of both their organization and that of their affiliates.

As far as I know, everything I said about the SBTC was either opinion or taken directly from their website. I don't see how you can say, "what you are writing about the SBTC is not entirely correct" since I only stated my opinions.

The main point of my original post was to illustrate my confusion over why Faith Harbour would want to be a member of SBTC in the first place. Obviously, if you are right about the financial benefits then I've got my answer. But, otherwise, after reviewing the SBTC site it didn't seem that Faith Harbour fit their "mold" with or without a gay ministry.

It seems to me that both Randy and the SBTC have reasonable arguements as to why he is or isn't within the guidelines of SBTC churches. But, to me, it doesn't matter. If I were a member of the The Harbour I would feel a sense of freedom from the leagalistic and inhibiting bonds of the SBTC. This isn't to say that they are bad people, but they obviously have a stricter view of who Randy should be affiliated with than even he himself has. Therefore, why should he maintain his relationship with them. Good for Randy for refusing to abandon a what he feels is a worthwhile ministry just to appease the convention.

The main problem I have with your comment is when you name the salvation aspects of Christianity as the cornerstone of the SBTC, but then say "That is the problem with the STBC and Faith Harbour." There is no connection between the two statements unless you are implying that the Harbour doesn't believe in the basis of Christianity. I don't think that you are saying this if you truly have had lengthy discussions with Randy, so I must ask you for clarification on these statements.

One more thing you stated that gave me pause: "[Randy was] to choose not to support a ministry led by another person who affirms the lifestyle of homosexuality." According to Wendy, Eklektos neither affirms (in the sense you mean) nor denounces homosexuality, despite her personal feelings. So you're saying that if a member church helps a ministry (or church. I agree that it's really irrelevant) and the leader of that ministry disagrees with the SBTC then the member church will be disaffiliated? Or is it just about homosexuality?

That brings me to a much bigger question for extreme right wing? Why homosexuality? Why not pick on adulterers or gossipers or the prideful? Are they with just as much sin? I address this topic here but the question keeps popping up somehow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Life's Instruction Book

The issue concerning the Harbour has reopened some thoughts and feelings that I've had in the past concerning the finity and absoluteness of God and his Word and how that specifically applies to Christianity.

Wendy Bailey, one of the two people at the center of the SBTC/Harbour controversy, wrote a very helpful and inspiring message in her blog today. You can read it and some quotes from a Christianity Today article by Brian McLauren here, on her blog

Greggo (that's not his real name, but I don't really know his real name since I only know him through his blog) also posted some quotes that speak to the issue of definite answers and the difference between being steadfast and stubborn. Here they are:

"It is our fascination with fixed and ultimate answers - dogma - that can so easily end the search for Mystery. When answers remove ambiguity and settle all vulnerabilities, those answers become dangerous, and we slip off the path of the seeker. When we use answers to put the Ultimate in a finite box, as if it can be described and contained, stagnation and arrogance result. When we believe we have final answers to all questions, we are no longer open to the experience of life and God. At these times, we are more invested in certainty than in the happenings of the present moment. These two dangers - stagnation and arrogance - will block our vision of God. Our search is hindered or abandoned all together."
-Dave Fleming

"It's a much safer world if the world is full of answers, particularly if I believe that my [religious] tradition has all the answers. If that is my view, then there in no reason to talk to anyone else from another tradition or viewpoint."
-Wayne Teasdale

People like myself who were raised going to a conservative, evangelical church have always been raised with the idea that sin as described in the Bible, homosexuality included, is black and white. It is wrong and those who live their lives never asking for forgiveness from those sins will not go to Heaven, but Hell. (My own sect of Christianity also firmly believing that complete immersion as baptism is not only a part of salvation but a requirement for salvation.) I've already found from others' blogs, even on this blog, that most of those who were raised in a similar way to my own still feel very much the way they did as they were growing up, and refuse to rethink it or give any leeway because the Bible says it and if the Bible says it then it must be so. There is no grey area or discussion about it. I've even heard of the Bible described as "Life's Instruction Book."

I've never bought into the "instruction book" philosophy. First of all, the more people you talk to the more you realize that almost no two people completely agree on what the Bible specifically says in most places. Even those who claim to be literal interpreters can't always agree on scripture. No one has these kind of arguments about how to interpret an automobile owners manual or instructions on how to put together a bookshelf. That's lead me to believe that there is a certain amount of searching to be done. Searching is done by reading and studying. But, not just reading, but reading between the lines, taking things into context and using other knowledge to draw understanding from the Bible.

The question of "is homosexuality wrong?" perplexes some, I know, because it is written down, right there in black and white. Why even the discussion, right? However, like the quote by Teasdale, above, states, "It's a much safer world if the world is full of answers." The Bible as "Life's Instruction Book" makes us feel safe in the same way we feel more confident if we have the instructions on how to build a bookshelf. The thing is, if we figure out how to build the shelf on our own, we'll probably have a better idea on how it was put together.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Faith Habour Lives Up To It's Name

Click here to read an AP article about a church here in Baytown that has been "disassociated" with by some big Baptist group because they are helping to start a ministry aimed at the Gay and Lesbian community.

For those of you too lazy to read the whole article let me sum up. A good friend of mine, Randy Haney, is the pastor of a small diverse church called Faith Harbour. I am well acquainted with many of the members there and have visited their services. Randy has recently come under fire from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for allowing the group Eklektos to hold meetings at their space, a rented out storefront in the Bay Plaza shopping center. Eklektos is a ministry that seeks to minister to the GBLT community in and around Baytown. At the onset of this ministry I was invited to come to the original planning meeting, but out of laziness or perhaps sheer busyness I neglected to go, despite having half-way intended on it.

Nonetheless, Eklektos pushed on without me. Go figure. Because of Faith Harbour's association with Eklektos the SBTC spoke with Randy about severing ties with Wendy Bailey, the originator of Eklektos. They believed Eklektos to be a new gay church that Randy and her were starting. Well, Randy's not starting it ad Eklektos isn't a church. When he refused the SBTC "disassociated" themselves with him, along with several other organizations including Baker Road Baptist who had until recently been giving support to the Harbour. (In the reports of this meeting I've read the suits from the SBTC kept referring to Eklektos as a church, despite Randy telling them repeatedly that was not a church. That's very humorous and typical to me. Like something you would see in a SNL sketch.)

To a Church of Christ boy who is used to a completely different set of political and ideological messiness within church bureaucracy, I don't quite see why The Harbour was even all that keen to associate with the SBTC, in the first place. In the good ole' C of C while most still adhere to a few general similarities (communion, baptism, a cappella singing) each congregation is truly autonomous and answers to no higher power. Except God. So aside from some unwritten and unbroken rules, there are no rules except what's written in the Bible. Interpretation of scripture is completely up to the individual church, and yet somehow they all seem to conform for the most part. Hmm. That sounds familiar....

As I see it, what good does a membership in any type of hierarchal system do for a church that is aiming to be diverse and individual? Since I don't really know how it all works, I won't assume to know the answer to this, but I'm guessing that the SBTC gives financial backing? I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong. I happen to know that most of the members of Faith Harbour weren't raised Baptist and probably would not consider themselves "Baptists." A service at the Harbour feels very non-descript and free. It's unlike any worship I've ever been to. It feels more like friends just getting together to sing and listen to God speak to them through music, art, the Bible, or whatever else moves them. It's a long way from the church that raised me, but also quite a ways from most Baptist fellowships, as well.

So, it's a wonder to me why the Harbour still wishes to associated with such a stuffy group anyway. But, it is obviously a huge deal, judging by the press coverage, and so my heart goes out to the Haneys and the other members of the Harbour. On the other hand, suppose I do understand. Afterall, I still attend a Church of Christ. There's always the idea that one can change the system from the inside out. I don't think that is Randy's goal with the Harbour, but it's a thought.

The problem, as the SBTC sees it, is simple. They have bylaws stating that member churches may not condone or support ministries that condone the homosexual lifestyle. I probably quoted incorrectly, but that is basically it. The Harbour supports Eklektos by offering space in which to meet, and by linking to the Eklektos website on their own. Eklektos's website states that they are "[A] community of Christians...especially called to welcome and affirm people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered." To the SBTC this means that since Eklektos "affirms" (an ambiguous term) gays they are "affirming" being gay, and so is the Harbour which means that the Harbour is outside the guidelines of the SBTC.

I have had lengthy discussions with Randy on the topic and I know that Randy would never allow the Harbour to be perceived as affirming the homosexual lifestyle. He is a strict literalist with regard to interpretation of the Bible. I think whether or not Randy is condoning anything, however is not even relevant to the SBTC. It seems to me that they simply want to distance themselves from anything that doesn't fit their mold. Faith Harbour certainly doesn't fit any mold and never has. Being aligned in any way, shape, or form to a gay-friendly organization just adds to their deviation from the mold set up for member churches.

A little research tells us that the SBTC is actually based in the idea that Baptist churches must conform. Their website states, "The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention does not seek theological conformity, but our own autonomy has led us to set parameters for fellowship." Does that not seem a little contradictory to anyone else? "We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture" but they have also decided that one's interpretation of that scripture must conform or they will not associate with him or her.

For the two or so years that I've know Randy I have come to admire him greatly. He and I differ on many topics, ranging from politics to religion, but he has always been gracious enough to sit and welcome my opinions and views. We discuss topics which people can get very heated about and yet he calmly gives me reason for his view and accepts mine without the usual backlash of disdain and judgment that unpopular opinions are often met with. He understands a basic Christ-like principle that many people over-look: Christ didn't tell us what to think or try to force others to believe what he wanted them to. He fought for the rights of others, in fact, and encouraged them rather than ridiculed them. I've never felt judged by Randy Haney, and yet through this ordeal and over his blog and others' he is being judged repeatedly and unfairly. It breaks my heart. But, I know that he can handle it because I know that he's dealt with this kind of scrutiny before. It's my belief that men like Randy who aren't afraid to push for change and unorthodoxy usually are.

I link to the Eklektos website in my sidebar because I believe in it's purpose and vision. It's goal isn't to condemn anyone but to invite people in as they are. Because I believe Jesus will accept us all despite our sins, whatever they are. I also believe that Gays and Straight alike are sinful and are God's Children. Jesus didn't only die for sinners who loved the opposite sex. He died for everyone. I'm proud that Baytown is host to such visionaries as Wendy Bailey and Randy Haney, who, despite polarity of opinions have daily found common ground in Christ. Well, I see Christ in both of you. I love you both and pray that this mess will strengthen both Faith Harbour and the Eklektos ministry (not a church).

UPDATE: The term I was looking for is "disaffiliate", not "disassociate," although it's really the same thing, isn't it?

Monday Haiku Therapy

It's one of those days. Monday. Bad weather. Uninterested students. I'm not doing much better. I think it's time for some Haiku.

I woke up last night.
I thought it was the morning.
Thank you, Lord. More Sleep!

The weekend was nice.
No responsibilities.
Nothing real to do.

5th period next.
The large class full of freshmen.
Hour and a half.

It's advisory.
Not a big fan of it all.
Too much wasted time.

Need to eat my lunch.
Cafeteria's not bad.
Gives me the gas though.

Light on the phone blinks.
You think I have a message?
No, it is broken.

What's up with paper?
It is the digital age.
Stop sending me crap.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's Not TV. It's Poop.

I'm convinced that advertising really does work. I'm convinced of it. I imagine that it works less whenever the viewer of the ad is aware that he/she is being effected, but nonetheless they are effected. However, I'm not necessarily effected the way the company was hoping to impact me. For instance: I've noticed that when I watch a Dr. Pepper commercial, I'm usually caught up in how awful the commercial is that I generally want to drink anything but a Dr. Pepper, or any soda for that matter, despite the fact that I love Dr. Pepper. But, there are sodas with better commercials, like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. It is my opinion that these company's ads far exceed that of Dr. Pepper's. So when I see a really well done Coke or Pepsi ad I get thirsty for a soda. But I don't like Pepsi or Coke so I usually go for a Dr. Pepper. So, with this logic it is better for the Dr. Pepper company if I see one of their competitor's commercials. My solution would be to make better commercials. But that's me. Also, in Texas everything that fizzes and isn't alcoholic is called Coke. Like if I said to Amanda, "Will you get me a coke" I actually want a Dr. Pepper. If I see a Coke commercial, I want a Dr. Pepper. Their advertising actually makes me want their competitor's product.

What Can Great Blogs Of Fire Do For You?

This site allows you to generate slogans. Go here only if you don't have anything else to do for a few hours. The universe seems a lot less random when you play with this thing, if you know what I mean. This is what gave me the title to this entry

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Play Reading

I want to have another reading of my Play Arizona Rose. Click here to read a synopsis of the Play. The synopsis isn't completely correct because I've made major rewrites, but it's basically the same idea.

I will need people to read for these parts:

Sandra Pendrum: 40s housewife
Mervin Pendrum: 40s dad
Suzanne Pendrum: College freshman, female
Ethan: 12, male
Kelly: College Freshman, male
Jeremy: College Senior, male
Scott: late teens, Susanne's boyfriend
Diane: Late 30s Supermom

Clay and Julia Ratcliff/Becker have offered their house to the play reading party. Now, they live out in Far, Far Away Land (i.e. Cy-Fair) but they do make the trip out here to grace us with their presence on more than plenty of occasions. So, surely we can go visit them in their home, even if it is on Pluto!

I don't have an exact date yet. It would highly depend on when everyone was available. I would like to do this before Sordid Lives starts, because after that we would most likely never have a chance to do this.

Reply here or email me if you are interested in reading with us. Last time we did this it took awhile because we didn't have enough people to read all of the characters and so who was reading who got confusing. It's a 2 hour play, but should probably be read in less time.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sammy the Fish

Sammy the Fish was a Beta fish bought at a PetSmart in Pasadena, Texas more than two years ago under the prerequisite that Sammy would reside at Amanda's school as a classroom pet. She had experimented with goldfish and other Betas all ending in fish deaths. Too many to name. It was quite a semester of doom for the small fish population. But, Amanda was becoming more adept as to what was killing the little things. The next Beta who she apparently called Sammy, although I only recently found this out, was to be different than the others. It was going to see, not just a record two months of life, but a full year? Nay, it kept living, and into it's third year no less! Sammy lived it's life in luxury being fed by second graders until the fall of 2005 when Amanda was told she could no longer keep a pet in her classroom. Sammy was sent packing into the constant torment of of two cats and no children to stare at it. All in all, it's life wasn't too bad. Three squares a day, plenty of space, a little thing that made bubbles.... Sammy wasn't doing so bad.

But, alas today as Amanda and I were preparing to get some lunch Amanda noticed that Sammy was not responding. Personally, I never thought much of the slimy little thing. I had saved it's life more than once as it took some skill to clean its tank and make the transfer from dirty tank to temporary cup of water without dropping the little bugger in the garbage disposal side of the kitchen sink. But, the feats of bravery were more for Amanda's sake than the fish. So, I typically didn't notice the thing very often. But, when I saw Sammy break into convulsions every so often and sink to the bottom of the tank upside down, only to struggle to flip back over, I couldn't help but feel just a little sorry for the fellow. I realized that we didn't have any record of our time with Sammy, so only minutes before he was sent to live within the bowels of the Great porcelain Graveyard, I snapped these final moments in the life of the fish. Amanda thought I was being cruel, exploiting Sammy's pain. In fact, this couldn't have been further from my intentions. I wanted to remember Sammy. In life I hadn't really cared about him or given as much as a second thought, so I knew that if I didn't take these photos, he would be forever erased from my memory. So we got these shots and then went and ate at Baytown Seafood.***

My mom, at times would feed Sammy, who she called Happy, because she always said he was happy to see her. Well, mom, Happy is swimming with the fishes now. Or, actually he's floating with the raw sewage. Which is pretty disgusting.

***Just kidding. We went to Chipotle.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Look at all the places I've seen! This is pretty cool. I included Utah and Colorado, although techically I've only been in their airports, so I don't know if that really counts. I think if I were to do something illeagal and it was the L.A. Police that did the arresting then that constitutes having been to that state. Anyway, here's my map.

create your own personalized map of the USA

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Come See Grease

An open invitation:

Come see Grease. It shall be wonderful. Filled with singing, dancing, merriment, pregnant teenagers...

Come enjoy the fun and laughter propagated by this most popular of musicals.

Sterling High School January 12, 13, and 14 at 7:30

Take I-10 to Baytown. Exit Spur 330 then exit Baker Rd. Take a left. Travel oh, about 4 or 5 miles. You will pass several lights. Once you have passed the Garth Road intersection it is about 1/2 mile on your left. The Auditorium is located on the East side of the building.

Admission is $5.

Bring a friend.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

In Defense of Hip-Hop

I heard a comedian on the radio tonight. The comedian was the late Sam Kinison, not one of my favorite comedians, in fact I find him quite obnoxious. That fact, however, had no bearing on my opinion about the statements he was making about rap music. I will say that I am not a rap fan, per se. I don't own a lot of rap albums or listen to hip-hop stations or watch booty shakin music videos. I've never owned a pair of Air Force Ones (shoes) given three rips about the rims on my ride or blinged out anything.

Kinison, however, feels (or felt, I guess, since he's dead) pretty strongly about rap. He hates it. He likened it to a foul smell, specifically, a fart. He used as an example of how bad rap is the rap group 2 Live Cru, a group from the late 80s and early 90s. At the time Kinison recorded this comedy track I was hearing I imagine that 2 Live Cru was at the top of it's popularity. Kinison's reasoning for how horrible rap was the subject matter of this particular groups songs. The songs were primarily sexual having titles that demanded fellatio and invited fornication. Having heard the songs before I can attest that, yes, they are completely filthy and without any redeeming merit.

However, Kinison lumps all rap together into this category of idiots simply expelling on sexual favors and getting off on cussing into a microphone. These guys are without question without any artistic talent. But, even in the early 90s all Sam would needed to have done was go seek out something else, something with a conscience and a soul to find out that, like any kind of music, there is the good as well as the bad.

I'm not a aficionado on early 90s Indie-rap but there was a group with the name A Tribe Called Quest that had a few menial hits but made their name as a socially conscious, intelligent rap group. I don't think that anyone could hear the Tribe without recognizing that it takes talent and artistic ability to do that. If you ever doubt that rapping is difficult then try it yourself. Just out of the blue try to come up with a string of words and phrases that are not only clever, but rhyme, have a through line of thought, and without skipping a beat. It's hard. Granted, rappers sit down and write out before hand the rhymes that will likely go on an album, but they also do the free-flow thing. It's improvisation in it's purist form and it's pretty impressive to witness if you haven't before.

You will find in my CD collection and on my iPod a variety of music that I probably shouldn't like. When someone asks me what kind of music I listen I generally say "good" because I like everything if it's done well. If I had to nail down a preference it would have to be rock, but there is plenty of crap that is labeled as "rock." it may be that the reason I don't like more country or R&B is because I simply don't know of the good stuff. In any genre the good stuff can be hard to find. For sure, it has become much easier with the internet and iTunes even if the stuff played on the radio keeps getting worse and worse, but nonetheless it is still not easy to find good music. That is why I have decided to list some very decent if not brilliant works of music in genres that would not typically be viewed as something I would listen to. These list are in no way comprehensive or definitive, they are just some things that I've run across that I kind and might not be played on the radio as much (or perhaps are, but I like them anyway.)


A Tribe Called Quest -- This group from the 90s is really the pioneers of socially conscious rap. The leader of the group, Q-Tip, did have a fair solo career that delved a bit into your typical "big pimpin" style of hip-hop, but he continues to create rhymes that inspire and challenge like on R.E.M.'s resent album Around the Sun. On the track "The Outsiders" Q-Tip says "I want to float a quote from Martin Luther King 'I am not afraid!'"

Outcast -- Now you're thinking "everyone's heard of Outcast, there about as mainstream as it gets" and you're right. Outcast has definitely made it to the big time, and it's about time. This duo started in the early to mid 90s and were underground for quite a while before having some decent success with Stankonia (Mrs. Jackson) but became a major force with the double album Speakerbox/The Love Below. As creative as ever Outcast pushes limits with not only hip-hop but the broader arena of popular music.

Beastie Boys -- If "Fight For Your Right to Party" is the last song you've heard by the Beasties then you've got some catching up to do. These guys are bonified legends of rap, having spanned a 20+ year career making records that are funny, inspiring, complex, and even political. They're still going strong with their latest collection of stripped down rap entitled To the Five Boroughs. Don't let the goofy videos fool you, these fellows are serious about their craft. Just check out the album Ill Communication and go straight to track number 4 to some serious jazz. In fact just about every cut on this album proves that rap is an art that can be fused with any genre of music. It covers jazz, funk, classical, new age, heavy metal, punk. Check out "Eugene's Lament" to hear their take on a world sound. The next track, "Flute Loop" is about as ingenious as they come.

The Roots -- I don't know much about The Roots and don't own any of their albums, but I know that I like them. They are proof to the nasayers that hip-hop IS, in fact, music, and while remaining grounded in hip-hop, are a better rock band than most of the crap that gets played on the radio. I often wonder why black artists that might rap and play their own instruments don't get played on more alternative stations. What's more alternative than rappers who are not only musically talented but who don't jump around talking about "bitches and hos." I can't help but think that there isn't just a ting of racially motivated pigeonholing going on there.

That's it for this post. Maybe next time I'll talk about how to use the soul singer's wail and voice modulation in a creative way (Not the way Christina Aguilera does it.)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Some of the best dancers I know are fat guys

Click here for a Holiday Treat

The guy sitting on the sofa is my e-buddy and Hollywood Fat-cat Dan Carlson

I'm kind of jealous I didn't think of this first. It may be one of the funniest things I've ever seen. It kind of makes me miss living with other dudes a little. While, yes, my wife and I will make up silly dances and go berzirk (sp?) to goofy songs, she would never let video tape it and put it on the internet.

The funny thing about these guys is that they probably spent more time and effort on this than should ever go into a thing so simple. And yet, that's what guys do.

Don't worry, honey. I don't miss living with smelly guys who are just as messy as I am, that much. Not enough to ever want to do it again, that is.